Legacies of the Immaterial in the Arts and Practice (LCCT 2015)

[Note: you can read my framing statements for the final conference panels here]

This stream asks what renewed interests in materiality mean for immateriality. In particular, it considers how this issue is critically negotiated through artistic, everyday, and socio-cultural practices.

The arts provide means for critically reflecting upon contemporary cultural and material conditions. They engage with both representational practices and their inherent problematics vis-à-vis immateriality. Potentially, they offer possibilities for conceiving of immateriality beyond ‘a negation of’ or ‘negative to’ materiality – e.g., by accounting for immateriality as constituted through material and artistic practices. This dialectic is diversely explored or manifest in the histories of the arts: the plastic arts proffer us material objects, yet these evoke immaterial excesses beyond the objects taken naïvely; music, regarded historically as perhaps the most ephemeral and abstract of the arts, appears in light of always-developing technologies and materialities of sound-production; experiential atmospheres are designated spatially through architectural and urban practices. Some might argue that these histories frame contemporary formations of art and culture.

One sensitive to these concerns may pose a series of productive, intimately related questions: How do (im)material practices appear within or react to dominant cultural contexts? Do ubiquitous digital technologies provoke aesthetic counterreactions that seek to reassert the place of materiality; or does one see a gesture of accepting the new (im)material regime? What is it to practice production and consumption within these socio-cultural contexts? In a Benjaminian recognition, might we see in capitalistic consumption promises of immaterial legacies (history, imagination, etc.),accessible only through the purchase of concrete commodities? What is the role of power in circumscribing (imagined) boundaries between materiality and the immaterial?

Submissions may focus (but are by no means limited to) the following areas:

  • (Im)materiality in art, music, dance, etc.
  • Materialising the immaterial (and vice versa) in art practices
  • Immateriality in and after New Materialisms
  • Immateriality and the problematics of (its) representation
  • Immateriality, the body and/or identity
  • Sound: as ephemeral and material
  • Immateriality and modernity / late capitalism / ‘liquid modernity’ / the digital age, etc.
  • Historicising the (im)material
  • Immateriality and material histories of the arts
  • Transversing the material/immaterial divide
  • The politics and cultural economy of the material/immaterial divide

In addition to scholarly papers, artists, performers, and practitioners are encouraged to propose papers and other forms of presentation toward this stream. This stream takes “the arts” in the broadest terms (including: poetry, music, visual art, theatre, architecture, dance, film…etc.).

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